Whether you've ever wanted to work remotely, or wondered about it but never tried it, thousands of companies and millions of people are being forced to consider the possibility of having to work remotely as the coronavirus aka COVID-19 spreads around the world.
Remote work is not new, in fact, remote work isn't the future of work — it's the present. You only need to look to job boards and ask any job seeker to find out that many new jobs now offer remote work or are offered by fully remote companies.
Remote work is being considered by government agencies as well as large corporations as a safety measure to prevent further spread of COVID-19 within their local community and their work environment. Companies offering remote work often create remote team to work on and most employees doing remote jobs are doing it full-time, whereas before this pandemic, some employees were able to work from home part-time.
In addition, remote work is also forced upon those who are asked to voluntarily self-quarantine due to exposure to the virus. Remote work is not just for those answering phones working in customer service or customer support, we are seeing whole industries go online and remote!
This is a scary time for all of us, no matter where you live as nearly everyone in the world is affected by the rippling events this virus brings, one way or another.
The latest headline from Forbes makes it clear that companies and their workforce all around the world will need to pivot: "Coronavirus Is Creating A Watershed Moment For Remote Work".
If you have been put on 'remote duties', or know someone who is, this article is for you!
Who Do You Look To When In Crisis?
When in crisis, I look to the experts; those who have experienced what I am about to experience.
In this case, I suggest that those employees who are forced to work from home due to the coronavirus outbreak look to those who've already successfully worked remotely, and continue to thrive as remote workers.
I happen to be one of these remote workers.
I've been in business for nearly ten years. As my business grew and family life evolved, so did my workspace and my habits. I started out working remotely at a kitchen table, with four children at home.
I have worked in coworking spaces, but found working from home more efficient after all. I currently work in a dedicated home office with only one teenager left in the nest.
Working in marketing for nearly 10 years, I’ve seen a rise in work from home jobs, particularly in the social media management space!
Working remote has downfalls and rewards. It can be scary, lonely and hard, yet can be fun, rewarding truly life-altering at other times.
My personal rewards come in the form of
freedom to work when I want
opportunity to work from anywhere in the world
time with family, friends and pets (see below)
Marketers Meet in a World Gone Crazy
Just this week, I returned from the largest gathering of social media experts, Social Media Marketing World. Despite conferences being canceled all around the world, and travel halted for many employees, #SMMW20 went on as planned.
With coronavirus fears looming over events that are being canceled all over the world, Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner trekked forward with the globe’s largest social media marketing conference, Socal Media Marketing World, held in San Diego from March 1 to 3.
One of the many reasons I attended despite warnings to restrict travel and fear of contracting COVID-19 is the human element. Because I work alone and remotely, I needed this 'fix' of human contact; Social Media Marketing World is my yearly trek to reconnect with online friends and community member IRL.
How To Keep Sane in a World Gone Crazy; Let's Ask The Experts!
Once I got home from my trip to San Diego, I realized just how fortunate I am to have this amazing career, and do it all while working remotely, in my home office.
I, along with millions of others, have been watching helplessly as panic about the coronavirus outbreak set in across the globe. Feeling helpless at this time as the world panics doesn't do much good.
Besides practicing good hygiene and praying for a quick end to this pandemic, I looked for something else I could do...
Today, I stopped feeling helpless and took action!
I asked my marketing friends to assist me with a special mission. I asked them for their very best tips, tricks and hacks to help make remote life easier for those who are new to it.
The ultimate goal was to spread a blanket of encouragement and kindness in a time of fear to make this scary time a bit more manageable and a bit more tolerable.
Marketing experts from all over the world answered my call for help! They have put forth their best tips, tricks, and also encouragement for those who now are faced with job uncertainty and yes, remote work!
The Best Tips For Starting Out With Remote Work, Sprinkled with Encouragement and Love from Those Who Live It!
If you are struggling with this new routine of working remotely, for whatever reason, feel free to reach out to me, or to any of us for that matter. I'd be happy to be your guide, connect online and invite you into my communities!
Enjoy these amazing remote working tips from remote workers around the world. They live in Canada, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Philippines, Ireland, France, Australia and in the USA - VT, CA, MA, NJ, VA, NC, TN, SC, TX, AZ and NY.
I have worked remotely for many years.
I think the biggest idea is to find a way to not be distracted by the normal routine of home, including social media, the TV, the yard, the kids, etc.
Somehow you have to have the discipline to "go to work" each day. Maybe that means moving to another space like a bedroom or a coffee shop if you don't have a proper home office. Stay focused and make sure your family understands what is happening and why it is important to have some workspace. They need to know that you aren't ignoring them, you're working and that is a way of loving them. Working at home can be fun, and it won't be forever. I have worked at home for years and I love the flexibility and increased productivity that comes from not commuting!
Working remotely has its good and its bad, but you can make the transition for your team way easier by implementing coworking calls.
Coworking calls emulate a physical office setting simply by jumping on a group video call, using a tool like Zoom.
Let your team know when these calls will be happening, giving them the security they won't be suddenly all left to fight for themself. To keep these calls on task allow for a short meet and great catchup chat followed by everyone muting their microphone and getting to work. Allow periodically for chat breaks to encourage questions to be asked and allow your team to get clarification from the team if needed.
Have a clear task list and use a time tracker, so you have to label the task that you're working on in the current moment. If you get distracted (it happens to the best of us), you can refer back to the time tracker so you know what you should be working on. Plus, seeing how much time you just wasted on the distraction gives you the kick to refocus on the task you should be doing. Remote working has fewer interruptions, so you're much more productive. You get back the hours of your day you would have spent commuting, and you're able to do the same volume of work in less time.
Build in breaks. Stand up, stretch, go for a walk around the block.
Be deliberate in your time. Have defined working hours and non-working hours. Have defined breaks. Take a proper lunch. It helps you be more productive when you are working. It also keeps a clear boundary between work and non-work time, which is very important when you can't physically leave the workspace.
When working from home, it's important to plan your day ahead so that you have some structure.
Make sure other people in your house know you are working.
It's important to get some sunlight during the day, so try and work near a window, and go for a walk if you can. Have accountability partners or a mastermind group to check in with regularly and work in short stints (the Pomodoro Technique can be useful) to reduce the likelihood of procrastination!
Working from home is fun! It gives you so much freedom to work in the way you want to work. It allows you to work at the times that work for you and do things that would be difficult to do if you worked at the office, like picking the kids up from school. Freedom is the main reason I work for myself at home. It can sound scary, but if you make sure you structure your day properly and have accountability with people, it's a great way of working.
Eliminate distractions and stick to your working hours. It is too easy to get distracted by little at-home tasks and chores when you are surrounded by reminders of the home life things you need to do, and although it will "just take a minute", those minutes add up and break your focus on the work tasks at hand. That can lead to frustration in feeling overwhelmed with your work and home life colliding. Relax. You got this. One focused task at a time.
Working remotely has so many perks of being in your own environment and having more flexibility and control over your workday.
All of us who have transitioned from a workplace to working at home have gone through an adjustment period and it does take time to get used to it. You are not alone.
Be kind to yourself and know that change, no matter how big or small, can be difficult. Regular communication helps ease the transition. You are just a video call away from each other. Use Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger video calls, Google Hangouts, Facetime ... whatever you are comfortable with.
My tip is simple
Do not stay in your pajamas.
Get dressed in work clothes so that you still feel like you're getting ready to work.
My best tip for working remotely: Get dressed! When we feel put together, we act put together. Brush your hair, put on actual clothes - get out of those PJs - and show up ready to rock. Shoes are optional.
If someone is afraid of working remotely, I would encourage them to create an atmosphere that invites creativity and calm.
Create a productive workspace and make sure it is quiet. Close off any distractions that your home may provide. Setting timers is always helpful and I would also suggest scheduling video calls or meeting clients/colleagues for lunch to keep conversations going and allow for human interaction. Working from home is awesome!
The most important thing for successfully working from home is that you must remember that you are working. If it's a temporary situation, you can get away with working from the dining room table in the short term but ...
If it's going to be a long term thing, set up an area in your home that will be your office and treat it as such.
Get up when you normally would have coffee, get ready, and then head into the 'office'. If you have family in the home, you'll need to explain to them that during X hours, you are not there and merely a figment of their imagination and then be prepared to enforce those boundaries.
Working from home CAN be very isolating so make sure you carve out time to get out of the house. Whether that's a regular session at the local coffee shop for a couple of hours or working from a coworking area, staying in touch with other humans is a necessary part of making it an easier transition.
My #1 tip as you transition to work at home:
Pay attention to the time of day when you are most productive and capitalize on that time!
Also... remember to set a timer so you take a break- stretch/get outside.
Working at home/from home is not what it used to be. Technology is our friend! Listen to your favorite playlist, hop onto video chats with peers and cowork. Definitely find what inspires you and connect the dots. INSPIRATION will keep you motivated and productive!!!
Meetings online have been proven to be more effective and faster than in-office meetings.
Take advantage of the quiet atmosphere - be productive when you can.
Take coffee breaks with other remote workers, via video chat!
Time block your day with breaks for fun. Work 30-90 min stints then get up from your desk and do a nonwork activity you enjoy, like going on a walk, painting, reading a book, or meditation.
Enjoy being in full charge of your day.
Connect with your pets ... Connect with friends online and via text. Don't give up human connection because you work at home.
Aim to have a WhatsApp chat, FB messenger chat or go old school and have a phone call with another fellow business owner or colleague. You don’t need to talk business, but having that interaction helps to help you feel less stranded.
Talk to people who have worked remotely and ask what their thoughts are.
Don’t know anyone who works remotely? Join local Facebook business groups and ask for feedback or ask your Linked Connections or Twitter.
My best tip is to plan your day in Google calendar the night before your day starts.
Build in regular screen breaks, take a proper lunch and try not to be on screens, social media or any other distracting activity.. unless it is laundry! Remote working can be lonely and isolating, of that there is no doubt. However, if you build regular connection calls with colleagues or peers that can help. Not work calls, just a pure watercooler call. If you're in a normal office, you're having that kind of interaction, whereas at home it is easy to get stuck into work and you become lonely. If you have healthy boundaries with your work, you'll thrive but if you don't plan those connection calls, it will get overwhelming and isolating.
Here are my tips:
Have someone you can be accountable to or check-in with weekly.
Remind them of the benefits of being a remote worker:
There is no commute
Less interruptions and distractions (if you set your office space up correctly)
More family time
If they are afraid of being on their own remind them that there are many tools out there that enable them to chat ‘face to face’ (Messenger, Zoom, Google Hangouts).
The best tip I can give for someone transitioning from working in an office to working from home is to give yourself a space to work in your home. Dedicate space where you can close yourself off from the distractions of home. A home office works wonders where you can still keep work separate from home life.
The best encouragement I can give for working from home for someone who’s unsure is to remember that those who work from home are far more productive.
You will get more done and have more time given back to you by working from home. A Stanford study, which included 16,000 participants, found a marked increase in remote employee output—even for employees who only worked from home a few days a week. Working from home is good for you and good for business!
As much as you can, pretend you're going to an office: get dressed, work in a designated spot (ideally not your bed), and box your time.
COMMUNICATION is key when working remotely. Be really, really accessible and responsive.
The more you can communicate with team members, the better the remote working experience will be for all.
My best tip for working from home is to create a space you’d want to work in. When I left my television news job, one thing I missed was my newsroom desk. So, I decided to bring that home. My desk at my work from office has a desk calendar, sticky notes with motivational quotes, my favorite live stream gear, happy pictures; you know all the things that make you joyous. I believe if I have to work in a space I might as well make it enjoyable. Create what you want while you wait to get back to your desk at work. This too shall pass.
Although this may not have been what you wanted just think you get to make your own coffee, instead of drinking that junk at work. You get a chance to finally work in your fuzzy socks and you can now play your music as loud as you want while you work.
Now whether you want all those things just remember this is temporary and I have found things I didn’t plan can turn into being a blessing in disguise.
Be 100% in charge of where your time goes. When I first began working from home in 2004 for an orthopaedic surgeon, I was living in Germany while working for a medical practice in South Carolina. It was a brand new thing to me and what I have learned over the years is that your time will disappear if you don't tell it where to go.
I have found making 3 top work bullet priorities to accomplish for the particular business day helps me stay super focused while I am working.
I also love working in 50-minute blocks. While doing the task for bullet number one, nothing else gets my attention. No e-mail, no social media, no phone calls. With this very direct intentionality with my time and efforts, I get so much more accomplished in a much shorter window of time. Once my fifty minutes is complete (and yes, I set a timer) I spend 6-8 minutes checking the mail, or grabbing a drink and force myself to get up and circulate within my home.
Realize that working from home does certainly look different than the usual routine of going into the office. But make sure you embrace the many positives. Although some people love the chance to chill and wear their favorite sweatpants, I personally love still dressing in the morning 'to impress'. It makes me feel better, it works for me, plus it makes me even more prepared for the impromptu Zoom or Skype meetings with people I want to do collaborations with or on-the-spot training for my clients. The biggest encouragement I can give you is to not be afraid to lean into what fuels YOU and do more of that, no matter what others may do.
I've found for many of the folks that I talk to that it's critically important to consider how you prefer to work. If you enjoy the peace and quiet of working alone, being able to simply tap co-workers when needed via Slack or Email, remote work can be a real blessing.
If, however, you're used to being surrounded by other people and enjoyed the convenience being able to do nothing more than lean over to get a question answered or share a joke, suddenly being isolated can feel, well... isolating. Like you've been put in the penalty box.
If that's you, let me assure you it's going to be OK. You can compensate for the change in environment and find newfound pleasure in being along more than you were. But coming to this realization is the first step. If you start working remotely and don't consider that you really enjoyed and needed the company of others, you'll only make it worse for yourself.
First, make smart use of the amazing technology we have at our disposal now, including Slack, video calls, and instant message. Working remotely does NOT mean you cannot talk to people, even see their faces!